After years of negotiation, it's now official: The city of Glens Falls can call the Northway Industrial Park its own.
The Queensbury Town Board voted 3-2 Monday night to allow the city to annex the 40-acre plot of vacant land on Veterans Road between Luzerne Road and Sherman Avenue.
The vote formally concludes a three-year negotiation process between the town and the city on an agreement that, in addition to the annexation, also provides for the city to furnish sewage treatment services to the town and for more county sales tax revenue to be shared with the city. The sewer deal was signed late last year.
Queensbury Supervisor Dennis Brower said Tuesday that the Town Board's vote to allow the annexation will foster economic and community development for the region.
"We're now going to have the greatest expansion of sewer infrastructure in over 25 years, and none of this could have occurred without this agreement and the annexation," Brower said.
But the two board members who voted against the annexation described it as a giveaway.
"I'm for economic development, but in the future we may regret this," 3rd Ward Councilman Dan Stec said. "The town is giving up valuable property for expensive sewer capacity, and it's not right."
Stec has announced he plans to challenge Brower's bid for re-election this year. Both men are Republicans, and Stec has won the endorsement of the county Republican Committee.
Brower defended the annexation Tuesday.
"Whether the property belongs to the town or the city doesn't matter," Brower said. "The real issue is to bring in new jobs, and that should be our focus."
But Stec said the town might regret the annexation in future years, when the property becomes more valuable. It's to the town's detriment to lose long-term control over tax revenue from the property as well as zoning and planning controls over it, he said.
"This annexation gives away a chunk of the town, and it sets a dangerous precedent," Stec said.
But Brower said the city will now pay for developing the property - a cost town taxpayers otherwise would have shouldered.
The city also agreed to contribute $200,000 to intersection improvements and a similar amount toward construction of a connector road from Northway Exit 18 to the industrial park.
First Ward Councilman Roger Boor, who supported the annexation, said the town may be better off not owning the property, considering the potential PCB pollution that has been identified along the northern side of Luzerne Avenue.
"Potentially there's hazardous materials on that property, and that poses an environmental liability," Boor said. "It makes sense to get rid of it."
Glens Falls Mayor Robert Regan said he's happy the annexation has been finalized.
"The annexation is a critical part of the sewer deal, through which the town is getting an enormous ability to grow by getting this sewer capacity," Regan said.
"Without annexing this industrial park, Glens Falls is unable to grow due to its lack of vacant land. So this cooperation makes sense."
Boor agreed with the mayor's view.
"I'd like to see Glens Falls prosper," he said. "They are our neighbor, and we're all one big community, and this is sorely needed."